Buildings are not just smart these days.
They’re more connected than ever by the internet of things (IoT).
Your office building can adjust its own lights, alert you when an employee has propped open a door, and turn on the presentation system in the large conference room when the meeting participants arrive.
Everything from the lights and speakers to displays and thermostats are connected to each other, as well as to control systems. Even employees’ personal devices and wearables can get into the mix.
All this connectivity isn’t just improving convenience but also safety.
Intelligent, integrated fire and life safety systems can detect, alert, notify, and even respond in ways by using multiple smart technologies.
Detectors for smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide can now be integrated with elaborate alert systems. They can also warn building managers and security teams of unauthorized access to the building or to networks and systems.
Integrating Safety Features
The National Fire Protection Association has developed a Life Safety Code which is used as the standard by many authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) when it comes to fire, electrical, and general building codes.
Different industries may have different code requirements. While passing inspection is important, meeting compliance doesn't eliminate every risk. The right mindset is that your building could always be safer.
A professional analysis can let you know what other options you have to improve safety or to meet additional precautions required by your insurance company. An intelligent system with proper design will protect building occupants and the building itself, as well as minimize legal liability.
Fortunately, today’s technologies allow deeper levels of integration and automation. When an alarm is triggered, audio systems can alert occupants to the problem, strobe lights can direct them to exits, displays may show message alerts, and a voice system can provide audio instruction about what to do next.
Alarms can trigger doors to close automatically to slow the spread of smoke and fire. Sensors may set off the fire sprinkler system as well.
Automation saves time and improves safety while also reducing the risk of human error when people may panic or underestimate risk. The system will automatically call emergency responders, but it can also send texts, emails, or push notifications to occupants and other facility stakeholders.
The Big Picture
With IoT, building and life safety become more complex. Reliable and secondary power sources are necessary to make everything work and connect as intended. Your network must also be reliable to ensure safety devices are able to continuously communicate.
For safety, audiovisual, electrical, and network systems to work interconnectedly, you need to ensure proper:
- Design. Make sure the entire system is designed right from the beginning. This includes new construction or upgrades from a conventional system to an intelligent safety system.
- Maintenance. The system needs to be monitored, maintained, and tested regularly to be sure it will function properly in case of an actual emergency. Regular testing also ensures it is up to code and will pass inspection.
- Use. Users must receive professional training to make sure they maintain the system and respond to incidents appropriately.
Finally, anything that is on your network is a security risk, so it’s important to ensure that the system is set up correctly and security precautions are in place.
If you have questions about fire and safety system design, testing, reporting, maintenance, installation, or training, share your questions or comments with us on social media. Or, feel free to contact us to learn more.
To find out if your fire and safety systems could use an upgrade, contact us about scheduling a fire alarm inspection.